On October 23, 2009, a reporter asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” Speaker Pelosi shook her head dismissing the question: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Pressed for a more substantive response later, Pelosi’s press spokesman admonished the reporter: “You can put this on the record. That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”
Yesterday, Roger Vinson, senior federal judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, found it to be a very serious question indeed. Judge Vinson characterized the Obama Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the constitutional challenge to Obamacare brought by 16 state attorneys general, four governors, two private citizens and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) as “not even a close call.” Addressing the Obama administration’s claim that Congress had the authority to enact Obamacare pursuant to the Commerce Clause, Judge Vinson wrote:
The individual mandate applies across the board. People have no choice and there is no way to avoid it. Those who fall under the individual mandate either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake. Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive. As the nonpartisan CBO concluded sixteen years ago (when the individual mandate was considered, but not pursued during the 1994 national healthcare reform efforts): “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”
The Commerce Clause was not the only issue that the Obama administration lost. Judge Vinson was even harsher when addressing claims that Obamacare could be justified by Congress’ broad power to tax:
As noted at the outset of this order, and as anyone who paid attention to the healthcare reform debate already knew, the Act was very controversial at the time of passage. … Because by far the most publicized and controversial part of the Act was the individual mandate and penalty, it would no doubt have been even more difficult to pass the penalty as a tax. Not only are taxes always unpopular, but to do so at that time would have arguably violated pledges by politicians (including the President) to not raise taxes, which could have made it that much more difficult to secure the necessary votes for passage. … Congress should not be permitted to secure and cast politically difficult votes on controversial legislation by deliberately calling something one thing, after which the defenders of that legislation take an “Alice-in-Wonderland” tack and argue in court that Congress really meant something else entirely, thereby circumventing the safeguard that exists to keep their broad power in check.
The American people are fed up with the arrogance of politicians like Speaker Pelosi and President Obama who casually dismiss the limits placed on their power by the U.S. Constitution. The 20 states and the NFIB will now have the opportunity to continue the fight against this Intolerable Act at a trial beginning December 16. But the courts are just one weapon the American people have at their disposal to keep Washington in check. Whether it is in the states, in Congress, in the courts or at the ballot box, the American people are fighting back. And they will win.
- Less than one month after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified to Congress that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was “one of the most effective emergency programs in financial history,” U.S. banks’ stocks fell sharply as new uncertainties about mortgage-backed securities surfaced.
- Obamacare is already raising health care costs for retirees on private plans.
- According to The New York Times, the Tea Party has “a good chance of establishing a sizeable caucus to push its agenda in the House and the Senate.”
- According to Gallup, Americans still trust their own judgment better than they trust politicians.
- Check out the video from The Foundry of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) addressing the Democratic Socialists of America before this month’s “One America” march.